updated 1/22/2004 8:56:23 AM ET 2004-01-22T13:56:23

Pfizer Inc., the world’s largest drugmaker, said on Thursday its quarterly profit declined, as charges related to its acquisitions of Pharmacia Corp. and Warner-Lambert Co. more than offset higher sales of big-selling drugs.

Pfizer, which markets Lipitor for cholesterol and Viagra for impotence, posted fourth-quarter earnings of $602 million, or 8 cents per share, compared with $2.86 billion, or 46 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding special items, the company earned 53 cents per share. Analysts on average expected the company to earn 51 cents per share, according to Reuters Research, a unit of Reuters Group Plc.

Quarterly revenue rose 52 percent to $14.2 billion, heavily boosted by the Pharmacia acquisition. Analysts on average expected revenue of $13.64 billion.

Sales of antibiotic Zithromax jumped 35 percent and sales of Norvasc, the world’s top-selling blood pressure drug, rose 17 percent.

However, sales of impotence treatment Viagra, which is facing competition from new rivals, rose just 4 percent to $509 million.

Pfizer reiterated an earlier forecast for 2004 earnings, excluding certain items, of $2.13 per share, a 22 percent increase. That would make it one of the fastest-growing drugmakers in the industry.

Including one-time items, Pfizer forecast 2004 net income of $12.8 billion and earnings per share of $1.68.

Pfizer said quarterly results included charges of $1.52 billion related to the Warner-Lambert acquisition in 2000, related to personal injury claims by former users of Warner-Lambert’s recalled Rezulin diabetes drug and a government probe of aggressive marketing practices by Warner-Lambert of its anti-convulsant drug Neurontin.

The company also took fourth-quarter charges of $1.84 billion related to the Pharmacia acquisition.

Although Pfizer’s earnings excluding one-time items routinely rise by a percentage in the double-digits, its stock price has barely budged in the past five years. Investors are unconvinced in its growth-by-acquisition strategy, as the Warner-Lambert and Pharmacia takeovers have left Pfizer a lot to digest.

But the $114 billion Warner-Lambert deal gave Pfizer Lipitor, now the world’s top-selling drug with $9.23 billion in annual sales, and Neurontin, the world’s top-selling epilepsy treatment.


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